Bubba Wallace Gets 1st Cup Win at Talladega, Playoffs Jumbled

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Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL — October 4, 2021

After a 23 hour delay, the YellaWood 500 from Talladega Superspeedway gets the green flag on Monday afternoon. Race 2 of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs is a huge wildcard, it will likely determine who advances and who will face a must-win scenario next week at the Charlotte Roval.

Denny Hamlin is safely in the Round of 8 with his win last week at Las Vegas. Points leader Kyle Larson can clinch his spot in the next round by scoring 54 points today.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoffs Outlook Following Race No. 30
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Denny Hamlin (P) 3,082 2 10 30 In On Wins
2 Kyle Larson (P) 3,096 6 15 60 57
3 Kyle Busch (P) 3,074 2 5 22 35
4 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3,070 4 5 29 31
5 Ryan Blaney (P)* 3,063 3 4 24 24
6 Chase Elliott (P) 3,061 2 3 21 22
7 Joey Logano (P)* 3,045 1 5 13 6
8 Brad Keselowski (P)* 3,043 1 2 8 4
9 William Byron (P) 3,039 1 3 14 -4
10 Kevin Harvick (P)* 3,036 0 0 2 -7
11 Alex Bowman (P) 3,030 3 0 15 -13
12 Christopher Bell (P) 3,018 1 0 5 -25

*Ford Mustang Drivers

From 7th in the standing back, these drivers are in danger of slipping out of contention should they encounter difficulties in this race. Every point matters and bonus points in the first two stages could make the difference in advancing or dropping out of the playoffs.

Today’s Race

Teammates Denny Hamlin(11) and Kyle Busch(18) start on the front row today. Hamlin is the defending champion of the race. Chase Elliott(9) and Ryan Blaney(12) start in row 2. The 500 miles at Talladega are equal to 188 laps, with stages set at 60/60/68 laps. A pit stop will be required in each stage of the race.

With no practice or qualifying, NASCAR scheduled a competition caution after 25 laps.

The Start

Two and three-wide racing developed from the drop of the green flag. There were 10 lead changes in the first 25 laps of the race. Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano(22), Kevin Harvick(4), Matt DiBenedetto(21), Martin Truex Jr.(19), Kyle Laron(5), and Cole Custer(41) all led laps prior to the competition caution.

Stage 1

Harvick and Custer were first off pit road and took the restart on the front row. Immediately the pack was back to three-wide and began swapping the lead with Truex and then Kurt Busch(1) went to the front.

Brad Keselowski(2), who holds the most wins at Talladega among active drivers, took the lead and fought off every challenge. The #2 car’s dominance drew the field into a single file line until the battle for Stage points heated up with 10 laps to go.

Logano pushed Chris Buescher(17) to the lead and with 5 laps to go as the field fanned out three-wide.

Justin Allgaier(77) got loose in the tri-oval and, with a push from William Byron(24), turned right into the door of Larson’s car. Both hit the wall and Chase Briscoe(14) caught a piece of the wreck as he tried to pass on the high side as the wrecked cars slid down the banking.

Stage 1 ended under caution as crews worked to clear the track from accident debris. Larson was able to continue with heavy damage, he complained that his steering wheel was knocked from its normal 12 o’clock position to 5 o’clock. Allgaier retired to the garage.

Stage 1 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 17 Chris Buescher* 10
2 22 Joey Logano (P)* 9
3 2 Brad Keselowski (P)* 8
4 4 Kevin Harvick (P)* 7
5 8 Tyler Reddick 6
6 12 Ryan Blaney (P)* 5
7 9 Chase Elliott (P) 4
8 42 Ross Chastain 3
9 1 Kurt Busch 2
10 48 Alex Bowman (P) 1

(P) Playoff Driver *Ford Mustang Driver

Stage 2

The Ford Mustangs of Logano and Keselowski were first off pit road and Logano took the lead on the restart. Larson worked to maintain minimum speed to remove himself from the vehicle damage time clock so he could stay in the race. On Lap 66 he blew a right-front tire and hit the wall bringing out the caution.

Back on the damage clock, Larson’s crew had 5 minutes to get him back on track. The shredded tire ripped apart the right front fender of Larson’s car. The leaders took advantage of the yellow to pit and refuel, hoping to finish the Stage without another stop.

Cody Ware stayed on the track to take over the lead with Logano, Keselowski, Buescher, and Ryan Blaney(12) making up the Top 5. Larson returned to the track 3 laps down. Before the race could be restarted, rain began to fall in Turns 1 and 2. NASCAR brought the cars to pit road and NASCAR displayed the red flag.

The red flag lasted just over 18 minutes. Back under yellow, everyone came to pit road for fuel with a lap to go to the restart. Christopher Bell(20), Hamlin, and Harvick all swapped the lead as rain clouds in the distance indicated to the drivers that it was “go time.”

With 98 laps in Alex Bowman was making a bid for the lead when he took a bump from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the backstretch. Bowman spun in Turn 3 and the “big one” was on. Tyler Reddick(8), Chase Elliott(9), Kyle Busch, Truex, Ryan Preece(37), Ross Chastain(42), and BJ McLeod(78) were all involved to some degree in the incident.

More Trouble

Elliott survived the crash with minimal damage. Stenhouse and Bell swapped the lead with Elliott and Hamlin pushing. With Kurt Busch providing a big push to Bubba Wallace they went three-wide for the lead. Busch prevailed with positions swapping so fast almost anyone in the lead pack had a shot at the Top 5.

With 10 laps to go in the Stage, drivers were told rain would fall before the end of the stage. Bubba Wallace moved to the lead and had to contend with Logano and Keselowski trying to take it away.

Tight Racing All Afternoon at Talladega / NASCAR Photo

Preece gets bumped by Buescher going down the backstretch and spins into the outside wall. Byron, DiBenedetto, Blaney, and Stenhouse got caught in the mess. The yellow flag was displayed again and the 2nd Stage will end under caution.

Unfortunately, rain began to fall heavily and the cars were brought to pit road with 3 laps left in the Stage. With Bubba Wallace in the lead, he exited the car and began the rain dance.

NASCAR ultimately determined there was not enough time left in the day to dry the track and continue racing. Wallace earns his first NASCAR Cup Series win in a rain-shortened race. It is also the first win for Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan as owners of the x23 Team. Stage points were awarded based on the finishing positions of the Top 10 cars.

Playoff Standings

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Standings
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Status
1 Denny Hamlin (P) 3,116 2 10 30 In On Wins
2 Kyle Larson (P) 3,097 6 15 60 +22
3 Joey Logano (P)* 3,096 1 5 13 +21
4 Brad Keselowski (P)* 3,095 1 2 8 +20
5 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3,095 4 5 29 +20
6 Ryan Blaney (P)* 3,090 3 4 24 +15
7 Chase Elliott (P) 3,084 23 3 21 +9
8 Kyle Busch (P) 3,084 2 5 22 +9
NASCAR Playoffs Cut Line
9 Kevin Harvick (P)* 3,075 0 0 2 -9
10 Christopher Bell (P) 3,056 1 0 5 -28
11 William Byron (P) 3,040 1 3 14 -44
12 Alex Bowman (P) 3,032 3 0 15 -52

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Alex Bowman, William Byron, and Christopher Bell are likely in must-win situations. Harvick is the first man out, but only 9 points back. Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch are in danger if the Roval jumps up and bites them. Keselowski and Logano are the big winners on the day moving up 20 points above the cut line.

Results of the YellaWood 500 from Talladega Superspeedway

Position Car Driver Interval Laps
1 23 Bubba Wallace 117
2 2 Brad Keselowski (P) 0.258 117
3 22 Joey Logano (P) 0.472 117
4 1 Kurt Busch 1.090 117
5 20 Christopher Bell (P) 1.337 117
6 17 Chris Buescher 1.787 117
7 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 1.804 117
8 4 Kevin Harvick (P) 2.572 117
9 43 Erik Jones 2.573 117
10 38 Anthony Alfredo 2.574 117
11 3 Austin Dillon 2.908 117
12 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3.449 117
13 41 Cole Custer 3.450 117
14 14 Chase Briscoe 3.451 117
15 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 3.578 117
16 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 3.896 117
17 34 Michael McDowell 3.897 117
18 9 Chase Elliott (P) 3.898 117
19 0 Quin Houff 4.974 117
20 16 Justin Haley 6.672 117
21 6 Ryan Newman 7.117 117
22 7 Corey LaJoie 7.413 117
23 99 Daniel Suarez 7.421 117
24 96 Landon Cassill 8.522 117
25 53 Joey Gase 8.622 117
26 10 Aric Almirola 8.973 117
27 18 Kyle Busch (P) 9.091 117
28 51 Cody Ware 10.046 117
29 15 Garrett Smithley 11.109 117
30 78 BJ McLeod 11.438 117
31 52 Josh Bilicki 11.959 117
32 37 Ryan Preece 125.989 116
33 42 Ross Chastain -1 116
34 66 James Davison -1 116
35 21 Matt DiBenedetto -2 115
36 24 William Byron (P) -2 115
37 5 Kyle Larson (P) -4 113
38 48 Alex Bowman (P) -20 97
39 8 Tyler Reddick -20 97
40 77 Justin Allgaier -62 55